February 22, 2010
Posted: 01:10 PM ET
He's been decorated with awards and called one of the world's most influential people. He's addressed packed auditoriums and waved to crowds who line streets just to catch a passing glimpse of him. He's shaken the hands of countless global dignitaries and earned a fan base following on Facebook that might rival that of Hollywood stars.
He is His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama, the 74-year-old spiritual leader of Tibet and the head of the Tibetan government-in-exile, based in Dharamsala, India. And though he describes himself, according to his Web site, as "a simple Buddhist monk," the love so many Americans and others have for him has, no doubt, bestowed on him iconic status - whether he sees it that way or not.
"I'd love to be in his presence. I'd love to be in an audience where he speaks," said Jerilee Auclair, 55, of Vancouver, Washington, who has yet to have that pleasure. "I yearn for it. I watch his schedule to see if/when he'll be in my area. ... I love what he stands for. His inner peace inspires me to find mine, daily."
She's far from alone in her admiration.
A CNN/Opinion Research Corp. survey released Thursday, the same day the Dalai Lama visited the White House, showed that 56 percent of Americans hold a favorable view of him, putting him "in the same neighborhood as other major religious figures," said CNN Polling Director Keating Holland. "Favorable ratings for the pope, at 59 percent, and Billy Graham, at 57 percent, are virtually identical."
From around the web
Go Behind The Scenes
LARRY KING LIVE'S Emmy-winning Senior Executive Producer Wendy Walker knows what it takes to make a great story.
With anecdotes, provocative emails, scandals, show transcripts and insights into Walker's long working relationship with Larry King, her new book PRODUCER issues readers an invitation to listen in on the most intriguing conversations on the planet.